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Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Recap, aka: a post with an absurd amount of links

I have had good intentions the past few days of writing a 2011 recap post- really, I have! But if we're going to be honest, it is a little depressing for me to think that our primary goal for the year was yet again unmet. Nonetheless, baby or no baby, we have been and continue to be very blessed, so I think it is only right that I take a moment to remember all that has happened in the past year.

In January, I wrote this post about how I was disappointed to learn that the start of a new year didn't necessarily mean any changes on the fertility front. In case you are wondering how I'm feeling about the start of 2012, you can pretty much just re-read this post and you'll have an idea. I also experienced Vomit Fest 2011 just prior to our vacay to NYC with the Olivers.

In February, we celebrated Valentine's Day and tried out a new Fertility Specialist, who turned out to be a bit of a dud, so it was back to Dr. C (along with Robot Nurse & Goldfish Nurse, unfortunately) we went.

In March, I continued my appointments (and frustration) with Dr. C. Brian decided to take up card tricks as a hobby during his phase of unemployment, and together we finally wrapped up the entire series of Lost on Netflix.

In April, we celebrated our one year house-versary, I continued to be irritated with fertility treatments (are you noticing a trend yet?), and after I wrote him this letter, our sweet nephew, Davis, finally entered the world!

In May, we celebrated Brian's and my/Allison's 28th birthdays. Brian also started a temp job (which ended up becoming permanent in August), AND we got excited about what was looking like a successful round of fertility treatment!

In June, sadly we learned that the round was not successful, but were semi-encouraged by the fact that we had finally gotten a fertilized egg. Because that month wasn't crappy enough already, I then found out that I had at some point been exposed to an Oregon trail disease. On second thought, let's just forget about June altogether.

In July, I got to see NKOTBSB in concert and resumed fertility treatment with one final round of Femara. I also had my first "blog date" ever and met my blog BFF, Erika, in person!

In August, we celebrated 4 years of marriage with a trip to Seattle. Upon realizing that the round of Femara was (surprise!) unsuccessful, we gave Dr. C the boot and I decided to give acupuncture a try.

In September, I found out that I won a blog contest, did my first ever "vlog," and continued acupuncture treatments, which entailed following a lot of new food guidelines.

In October, Brian almost died by participating in his own Vomit Fest 2011, and I found two new inspirational songs - one that makes most people want to claw their eyes out and one that hopefully doesn't. And yep, you guessed it- I kept going with acupuncture!

In November, I took a trip to Santa Fe with my mom AND did my first ever giveaway! I also posted this Christmas stocking stuffer post, which apparently was successful being that I received everything on the list this year! Oh, and Brian and I both got promoted at work!

In December, we got our hopes up about my third cycle with acupuncture, but were disappointed once more. Brian and I celebrated our date-a-versary, and Christmas came and went.

So there you have it. A rather lengthy (and repetitive!) recap of a year with the Joiners. Obviously, a lot of other significant events happened along the way, but I just wanted to hit the blog highlights. I'm hopeful that next year's 2012 recap will look a little like this:

We got pregnant and had a baby! The end.

And being that this post has dragged on like it has, I'm guessing you're hoping for a post that brief as well :) Farewell, 2011- it was (semi-)nice knowing you! And here's to what will hopefully be a memorable 2012...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Way back when-sday


The Blogivers


Yes, that's right, friends, this is my first ever Way back when-sday post! As many of you know, my sister (the hot babe in the pic above) started WBW a while back, and although many people have since joined in on the fun, for some reason, I have yet to participate.

I can't guarantee that I'll become a WBW regular (because let's be honest, I can't guarantee that I will do anything regularly when it comes to blogging), but I'm here for now and hope to be back in the future, so hopefully that will suffice for now.

As I have mentioned before, Brian proposed to me on Christmas Day (2006), so Christmas is twice as special to us. In honor of that, today's WBW will take you on a little stroll down memory lane through all 9 of the Christmases that Brian and I have shared thus far. Enjoy!

Christmas 2011 at the ranch 

 Christmas 2010 at the ranch

 Christmas 2009 at Brian's youth group's tacky sweater Christmas party

 Christmas (morning) 2008 at the ranch

 Christmas 2007 (our first married Christmas!) in Santa Fe

 Christmas 2006 in Austin (just an hour or two before the proposal, little did I know!)

Christmas 2005 in Austin

Christmas break 2004 - sorry, apparently we didn't take any Christmas-y pictures that year? 

And now for the one that you've all been waiting for (aka: the worst picture ever taken of us):

Christmas break 2003... this was taken outside of Brian's parents' house in Richmond just a couple of weeks after we started dating. I am certainly not looking stellar myself, but I think you'll all agree that Brian's hair is the star of the show in this picture...

Merry belated Christmas to you all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The night before Christmas

I realize this is a non-traditional Christmas song, but I think the lyrics are the most appropriate today as we remember the original Christmas Eve:



Empty manger, perfect stranger,
about to be born
into darkness, sadness, desperate madness,
creation so torn.
We were so lost on earth, no peace, no worth,
no way to escape.
In fear, no faith, no hope, no grace,
and no light,
but that was the night before Christmas.



Merry Christmas Eve to all!

PS- If you're in the Sugar Land area, we would love for you to join us at Living Stones Church for our Christmas Eve service tonight at 5 pm (directions on the website)... rumor has it that there will be cookies :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Proof that the halls are, indeed, decked

Christmas is upon us, my friends, and sadly, that means that the days of our Christmas decorations are numbered. I know I already shared pictures of the majority of our decorations with you last year, so I won't bore you with a repeat. Instead, I am only going to share with you this year's new additions. You're welcome.

O, Christmas tree... ok so this one isn't new. But due to a furniture purchase earlier this year, the tree was relocated to a different corner, so it counts, right? :)

I don't have a fancy camera, so I generally can't take fancy pictures- but that doesn't stop me from trying. Behold our Santa Claus and his two holly trees!

Here is the un-fancy (but undoubtedly more revealing) view.

Again, the stockings aren't new but they ARE in a different location. And the bow (originally made by my talented mother-in-law for gift-wrapping purposes) and advent calendar most definitely are new!

Close-up shot of the advent calendar that Brian actually picked out... which makes me love it even more :) For those that are curious, each day holds a peppermint Hershey's kiss (except Christmas day, which holds 10+). We trade off every other day who gets to eat the Hershey's kiss because we like to keep it even like that.

Our Christmas cards! They are (obviously) new, but I have re-purposed a picture tree to display them AND the blocks (spelling out "joy") in front are also a new addition.

These are an oldie but a goodie- we used to eat on these growing up, and my mom very kindly handed them down to me. They aren't necessarily my style, but I love them mostly for their sentimental value.

As many of you saw on facebook, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came in town last week and stayed with us for 2 nights. Because they are awesome, they made us dinner one night. And because they are even more awesome, they surprised us (ok, me) with these Spode Christmas dishes and serving piece! 

A few years ago when I was thinking about buying a set of Christmas dishes, Brian suggested that we wait until we have kids to do so. Little did he (or I) know that "until we have kids" would equal a sweet eternity! Recently I casually asked if he wouldn't mind us going ahead and getting some next year (you know, in case we are still childless) because I was tired of not having any. So imagine my surprise when I came home from work that night to find them on our dining room table. Thank you, Terrie, Don, and Shannon!

So there you have it! Fingers crossed that next year there will be an extra stocking to add to the mix...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Date-a-versary Recap

I'm here to report that our date-a-versary celebration was a success! Allow me to recap the mini-adventure for you:

The hotel
We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel near the Galleria and loved it! And they got bonus points for pretty Christmas decorations. Brian's company's Christmas party was fun, but being that Brian is still fairly new there, it was a lot like being at a wedding for a couple neither of us knew very well. Nonetheless, he made me a very proud wife because everyone that I did meet was very complimentary of him and how much of a help he has been there- always nice to hear!

One "special" highlight from the otherwise wonderful accommodations: While taking advantage of the free breakfast buffet, I took a bite out of my apple walnut muffin only to find this in my mouth:


To clarify, it was the rock, not the penny. The penny is just there as a size reference. But back to the point: there was basically a piece of gravel in my muffin. How does that even happen?! I didn't want to make a scene, but made sure to mention it to the person at the front desk when we walked out.

He was very apologetic, asked our room number, and started clicking frantically on his computer. Sorry, buddy, but I'm pretty sure there isn't a section on what to do when a guest finds a rock in her muffin in your online manual. We insisted that we really weren't expecting anything in return, but rather just wanted to make sure they were aware. Maybe next time you should bake your muffins inside the kitchen and not out on the playground. Just a suggestion.

The Galleria
We got there early on Saturday (post rock muffin consumption) to beat the holiday crowd, but surprisingly, it wasn't that packed! We didn't actually buy anything, but had fun walking around just the same, particularly at the beginning when we came upon THIS:





Genius move by the SPCA, if you ask me. They had these puppies (and more) stationed by one of the entrances. Those poor, unsuspecting parents that brought their kids to the Galleria for a picture with Santa had no idea what they were in for.


Oh, and also amusing: at one point while I was waiting for Brian to get off the phone, an elderly Asian woman approached me as if she needed assistance finding something. Apparently she didn't speak English, so she started a game of charades and kept pretending to sit down. I didn't understand what she was getting at, but pointed her to a nearby bench assuming she just needed somewhere to sit. She shook her head frustratedly, and then said, "poo poo, pee pee?" YOU try keeping a straight face next time that happens to you. I guess I'm at least glad she didn't clarify which of the two she was hoping to accomplish...


The Zoo
After a quick lunch in Rice Village, we finished up our adventure at the Houston Zoo! The weather was perfect- sunny and cool, which was apparently ideal for napping, as most of the animals were asleep. EXCEPT for these guys:



So that, my friends, was our celebration, and it was a great one! A big thanks again to Brian for such a thoughtful gift :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Warning: boring explanation ahead

As promised, I wanted to further clarify why Needle Lady thinks I most likely did not ovulate in this last cycle:

If any of you have ever taken progesterone, or even been on birth control, then you know that it is very possible to have a period without actually ovulating. The confusing thing about acupuncture is that, unlike with the fertility specialist, there are no ultrasounds or bloodwork to confirm the actual development and release of an egg (ovulation). So while there are certainly symptoms you can look out for (and even ovulation predictor kits you can use), you are largely just guessing if and when ovulation occurs.

To further clarify, some of the symptoms you experience after you ovulate (including an eventual period) are similar to some of the symptoms you experience as a result of simply a change in hormones (ie: an increase in progesterone or a decrease in estrogen). A lot of what acupuncture focuses on (especially with people with PCOS) is "correcting" the function of your hormones. So essentially, it is very possible (and even likely in the case of someone like myself with very stubborn ovaries) that the past 3 cycles I have had were most likely the result of a change in hormones rather than actual ovulation.

As you might recall, Needle Lady told me initially that it takes your body about 3 months (100 days) to "reset itself." In my situation, this basically meant that it would take about 3 months for my uterine lining to rebuild and for whatever had been put into my body in the previous 3 months to get out. So in my case, this meant that it would take about 3 months for my body to "flush out" all of the fertility medications it had been exposed to (and any other "toxins" for that matter, probably including the apparently evil Raisin Bran- ha!).

So this essentially means that for the past 3 months, her goal for each cycle was mainly to get me to have a period on my own (I know, who thought it would be so much work?!)- NOT necessarily for me to get pregnant. Now don't get me wrong, she was not working against a pregnancy by any means, and she even wanted me to go ahead and make some changes (dietary and otherwise) that would help a pregnancy, but she just wasn't necessarily aiming for it to happen before then.

With all this said, when I thought I might have ovulated in this last cycle, she had no reason to believe otherwise, because again, while her primary focus was not on getting me to ovulate yet, there was nothing necessarily stopping it from happening (besides my obviously rebellious reproductive system). So that's why she had me focus on doing things that would help a pregnancy if that were the case.

Nonetheless, after my disappointing news last week, she wasn't all that surprised, and was actually quite pleased that my cycle was shorter because it means I'm making progress. BUT, at my second weekly appointment last week, she said that now that it has been 3 cycles (and around 100 days), she is going to focus much more on getting me to ovulate... fingers crossed, because clearly that is no easy task! :)

She also mentioned that since we have passed that 100-day mark, I can start coming in once a week instead of twice a week. She seems confident that the herbs and other 800 supplements will do the rest. I am ok with this because (a) I trust her, (b) it will cost less money :), and (c) it confirms to me that she really is looking out for my best interest, because I don't think she would tell a paying customer to come less often if that wasn't the case!

So that's that. While the impatient overachiever in me was really hoping that I would beat the 3-month mark and get pregnant after a week or two of treatment (and without having to take any herbs at all), I do realize that all of this has been helping my body to be more prepared for a pregnancy WHEN one occurs. And that's really the most important thing.

All we do from here is continue to hope, pray, and take strange supplements! And of course, as always, I'll keep you posted along the way...

Friday, December 16, 2011

All's well that ends well

For obvious reasons, I didn’t clarify that my acupuncturist’s recent instructions were all geared toward making my body “hospitable” for what we hoped were the early stages of a pregnancy. I gladly obliged her strange requests because I was so sure that this time was it… that FINALLY it was “our turn” (oh, and because being lazy and avoiding salad is surprisingly easy).

No matter how hard I tried to resist the temptation to let my mind wander about announcing the good news to our families and being able to bid goodbye to 2011 with one final bit of good news, I got my hopes up and ended up disappointed. When I realized bright and early on Monday morning that this cycle had not ended up how we had hoped, I quietly went on with my day. I didn’t cry, and I even managed to look on the bright side, because hey, I did say that I would consider this cycle a success if it was less than 40 days, and it was only 37!

But as the day dragged on and the reality began to sink in that we had “failed” yet again and would be wrapping up another full year with no baby, I literally began to feel like I couldn’t breathe. The weight of the bad news (that seems to have been piling up for quite some time) combined with the fact that I am pretty sure I didn’t even actually ovulate (will explain that in another post) was just more than I could handle.

So at the end of the day, I got in my car to drive home and willed myself not to cry. I made it to the mailbox by our house, where I stopped to get the mail. A neighbor, whose house is particularly festive for the holidays, happened to be outside, and I commented to him that every night when I drive by their house, their lights and decorations make me happy. I told him that the candy cane lights lining the yard were my favorite, and then asked why they weren’t on. He responded that he just hadn’t had the chance to turn them on yet. And it was at that point that I got in my car and started crying.

Rational? Not so much. I’m pretty sure that any recent references I have made to being emotionally stable have now lost their credibility :). Nonetheless, eventually I pulled it together and dragged myself into the house. I would like to say that a good cry was all it took to make me feel better, but I would be lying if I didn’t confess that there was fudge and Bluebell Christmas Cookie ice cream consumption involved.

Brian made it home eventually (by this point, well aware of my fragile emotional state, despite his efforts to cheer me up throughout the day by e-mailing me cute pictures of puppies), and said the 9 words that he was sure would make me feel better: “Would you like to open your Christmas present early?”

Hmm, let me think. Crappy day + feeling majorly sorry for myself = SURE. After a brief scavenger hunt around the house, I pulled a piece of paper out of my stocking with a picture of a city skyline on the front. Thinking it was a picture of Dallas’s skyline (I’m a genius), I gave him a confused look and proceeded to open the piece of paper.

Inside, there was an invitation to be his date at his company’s Christmas party on Friday night (which, hopefully, was a given), and a note that he had booked us a room to stay at the hotel where they were holding the party that night. Um, newsflash: it was a picture of the Houston skyline. You know, the place where we live? Oops.

While it was very thoughtful of him to book us the hotel room, it was even more special because tonight (December 16th) marks 8 years since our very first date, and he wanted to make sure the company Christmas party didn’t prevent us from celebrating. Oh, and to top it off, he booked the hotel’s “shopping package,” which includes free breakfast AND a $50 Visa gift card, which we fully intend to spend at the neighboring Galleria (don’t worry, we aren’t braving that holiday traffic—the hotel has a free shuttle)—I know, I know, he really is the best!

So while the week didn’t quite start off as I had hoped, at least it will end that way. And because I don’t believe in coincidences, I think it’s pretty cool that way back in 2003 when God was arranging our first date, He also knew that 8 years down the line, Brian’s thoughtfulness in commemorating the event would be perfectly aligned to redeem an otherwise crummy week.

So happy date-a-versary, Brian! Looking forward to many more memorable dates to come...

Celebrating our 2nd date-a-versary (before our wedding anniversary existed!) back in 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Two for one

Yes, it's true, I can barely manage to update my own blog more than once a week, but Allison asked me to guest blog for her, so I reached deep down into my past ability to blog regularly and put something together.

I definitely think I deserve credit from my own readers, though, so why don't you just meander over to my guest post and pretend you read it here instead? Thanks.

Monday, December 12, 2011

For the birthday girl

Happy birthday to one of my bestest friends, who lives hundreds of miles away, and whom I happen to have only actually met once :)

Erika, I thank God for you and our friendship today and always, and pray that your year as a 29-year-old (which is actually your 30th year of life!!) will be the most amazing one yet! :)

Lots of love,
Amanda

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's (continuing) to feel a lot like Christmas!

Happy Monday, all! Just to update you, I have not been exercising (minus a brisk 11-minute walk yesterday) nor have I taken a single bite of salad. And in an effort to not eat cold food, I chose peppermint hot chocolate over gelatto on our Christmas date last night, so as usual, I am doing my best to be obedient. Oh, and I also wanted to share with you all that on Friday, I was given one additional guideline: eat a lot of dark chocolate. I know, I know, it's a lot to ask, but I have been doing my best to comply.

In between acupuncture appointments and working, I have been wrapping presents, trying to downplay my obsession with David Archuleta's Christmas album, and shopping for something to wear to Brian's company Christmas party next weekend. I have only been successful at one of these, and I'll just leave you guessing which one that is.

As mentioned above, Brian and I went out on a Christmas date last night. It was not quite as elaborate as our very first Christmas date back in 2003, but we still had a good time: dinner at Jus' Mac (yes, that's correct, a restaurant devoted entirely to the art of macaroni and cheese), "dessert" (in liquid form) at Starbucks (in holiday cups, of course!), and then back to our house to watch Love Actually, aka: the greatest (non-traditional) Christmas movie of all time.

We are hoping to cross off two additional items on our Christmas-time to do list this week: (1) walking through our neighborhood to see our neighbors' lights, and (2) driving through one of the nearby neighborhoods (as featured in this post last year) to see the slightly more elaborate lights. What other items still remain on that list, you ask? (3) Watch the original "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and (4) Get a peppermint milkshake somewhere. I realize these aren't the loftiest or most original seasonal goals, but we like to set realistic (and inexpensive) expectations.

Oh, and one more item that didn't make the list but TOTALLY should have: Elfing ourselves. So now, for your viewing pleasure:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Good thing I'm such a rule-follower

So I’m pretty sure I had my favorite acupuncturist appointment ever this week. I know what you’re thinking, and no, she didn’t substitute Amy Grant’s “Home for Christmas” album as the background music for my session (although now that I think of it, that would be pretty amazing…). But rather, it was the conversation we had before needle time that really made my day.

First of all, when she was talking to me about how acupuncture helps out with PCOS, she compared my ovaries to a roller coaster ride at Disney World. No lie. She basically said that my ovaries are like a ride that keeps filling up with people—rather than one group getting off and a new group of riders getting on, people just keep getting on the ride until it’s so packed that it can’t function properly and stalls out. And even if someone wanted to get off, they’re too smushed by all of the other people, so they can’t. And if and when they finally do, they’re not in great shape anymore because they have been smashed up against all of the nasty sweaty people on the ride.

Not sure if you followed that or not, but what’s important is that (a) I understood exactly what she meant, (b) it was much more helpful than when my fertility specialist would pull out his pen and a piece of scratch paper and try to freehand a drawing of the female reproductive system, and (c) it made me laugh.

After that, she gave me instructions for the remainder of my cycle that are undoubtedly my favorite to date :
1. No cold food or drinks
2. Specifically, no salad
3. No exercise
4. Specifically, no ab exercises

Um, I think I can handle that. I did panic a little at the “no exercise” command because I feel a lot better when I can get in at least some type of exercise (especially when I have been consuming my weight in Christmas cookies), but she said that walking was fine. So tell me- how many times in your life has your healthcare provider told you to avoid eating salad and limit your exercise?

Don’t worry—this is only for the duration of this cycle, so I’m not going to adapt these as my new life rules or anything. I will say, however, that I highly prefer these guidelines to the elimination of my beloved Raisin Bran from my diet. Have I mentioned that Brian has chosen Raisin Bran as his cereal choice for the past couple of weeks? This means that every morning when I pull out the box of Total, I have to reach right past the neighboring box of Raisin Bran to do so. Life can be so cruel sometimes…

Friday, December 2, 2011

Down, but not out

Um, so, yeah, Thanksgiving came and went! Gobble gobble and happy belated turkey day to you all!

We stuffed our faces celebrated the big day in the thriving city of La Grange, Texas, at Brian's grandparents' ranch. Football was watched (I don't want to talk about it), food was consumed (with Brian being the champion in this category), and games were played (with yours truly being the champion in Apples to Apples, thankyouverymuch).

Oh, and in the dogs' case, a rabbit was chased onto someone else's property and consequently their parents and Aunt Shannon spent approximately 5 minutes (which felt like 5 years) panicking that we would never see Noah and Buster (or the rabbit again). Fortunately, they didn't end up
lost in the wilderness, but it's safe to say that a certain white dog will not be allowed off of his leash at the ranch ever again.

We made it back home on Saturday afternoon with plenty of time to decorate the house for Christmas, aka: my favorite activity of the year! I have said this before, and I'll say it again: Christmas lights and Christmas music can make ANY activity (working out with Jillian Michaels, eating a depressing bowl of Total cereal, commuting to and from work, you name it) more enjoyable.

Minus a small (but unfortunately semi-public, at least to our neighborhood) marital dispute that erupted over the Christmas lights on Sunday, the holiday weekend was perfect! And then Monday morning came. And along with Monday morning came a commute to work in Brian's truck that regrettably does not possess seat heaters OR my collection of Christmas CD's. Strike 1 and 2. And then there was the whole going back to work thing. Strike 3.

Don't get me wrong- I really do like my job, and coincidentally, I actually got a promotion this past week! But unfortunately coming back from a holiday in this case meant an overwhelming amount of catching up to do. As a result, I started off the week in a bit of a funk.

By Wednesday, I had progressed from being in "a bit of a funk" to full-blown wallowing in self-pity. As many of you witnessed via my Facebook status updates, I found myself overwhelmed by such newsworthy events as the 4th wife from "Sister Wives" having her baby, along with that stupid vampire on the latest "Twilight" movie. And I even went so far as to get angry at the radio station for playing songs about Christmas that involved babies. Nevermind the fact that they were about the birth of our Savior. That is irrelevant when you have convinced yourself that the whole world is out to rub your barrenness in your face.

As usual, my acupuncturist got an ear full (in a whiney way, not an angry way). She did her best to reassure me and just reminded me to be patient. She said once again that it takes at least 3 months for your body to "reset" itself, and for some PCOS patients, it can take up to a year. My response? "A year?! I will throw myself off of the roof of this building before then." Nothing like having a patient fall off the deep end while under your care and supervision, I'm sure.

The funny thing is that I really have been feeling much better in recent months. I mentioned recently that acupuncture has helped me to be more emotionally stable, and I still believe that to be true. Since starting acupuncture, I think I have cried maybe twice. Whereas before, I cried that often in a week. And that was in a GOOD week.

That does not mean, however, that I am ignorant of our current reality... of the reality that we really and truly thought we were going to be able to announce a pregnancy to our family at Christmas 2009... of the reality that we have spent far more money than I care to count and with (other than the relaxation that acupuncture has provided) basically no results... of the reality that of the 5 couples (including us) that rang in 2011 together on New Year's Eve last year, 3 had babies this year and 1 is expecting a baby early in 2012... which just leaves us. And sometimes that reality just seems, I don't know, heavier than normal.

Regardless, I am feeling much better now. Apparently unloading on my acupuncturist (whom I obviously forget is not my therapist), venting to my sissy, and allowing my husband to convince me to have a chocolate milkshake from Sonic did the trick. It's funny, because every time I hit a low point, I am certain that I will never be able to get over it, but time and time again, God reaches down into the depths of the pit of despair I've stumbled into and pulls me out again. And for that, I am thankful.

Oh, and because I realize I never really cued everyone in on the latest, I am now about 4 weeks into my latest cycle. I am defining "success" this cycle as (a) getting a period on my own, and (b) having a cycle shorter than 50 days. Oh, and bonus points if I get pregnant instead. So we'll see.

That's all for now. Actually, wait, no it's not- I've been so kind as to share two pics from our turkey day at the ranch with you. Enjoy!



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Who knew Christmas shopping could be so discriminatory?

This past weekend, I made the trek to Austin for A Christmas Affair. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Christmas Affair, it is basically a Christmas market where vendors come in from all over and sell their stuff. You’re welcome for that high-level description- hope you were able to keep up.

My sisters, mom, and I go every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving (although sadly, my big sis was unable to join us this year!), and even though I rarely purchase anything there, I always look forward to going. This is in large part because of the fact that it gives me an excuse to obsess about all things Christmas prior to Thanksgiving... oh, and the free food samples.

However, while I do love Christmas Affair dearly, I should also point out that it is somewhat of a nightmare for those of us that are fertility-challenged. It is guaranteed that you won’t walk more than 5 feet without seeing (a) a pregnant person, (b) painfully adorable children decked out in Christmas attire, or worse, Christmas pajamas, or (c) a booth selling cute owl accessories for the daughter that you fear you’ll never have (not that I’m talking about myself, or anything). And in fact, that’s exactly why I felt no remorse when I went back for the third sample of toffee or caramel corn. At least if my uterus can’t be full, my stomach can be, right?

I really did have a good time, though, and unlike last year, I did not end the day of shopping (which continued at the mall) by racing out of Macy’s to cry in the parking lot because I felt just so desperately sorry for myself*. Victory!

On another note, while we were at Christmas Affair, we stopped in one of the booths that was selling ornaments, dishes, etc., most of which were college-themed. Not surprisingly, there was an abundance of UT-themed items for sale. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see an equal amount of A&M items on display as well. So pleasantly surprised, in fact, that I said something to the women running the booth about how happy it made me to see A&M fairly represented.

Now if you ask me, the proper response would have been something to the effect of, “Oh I’m so glad you noticed! And wouldn’t that A&M ornament make the perfect Christmas gift for your recently graduated sister-in-law?” The ACTUAL response I received was, “That’s just because no one has bought any of the A&M stuff so there’s a lot more of it left.” Um? Great sales pitch, lady.

I responded loudly with, “Well that was rude…” and we then made our way out of the booth while her co-worker, obviously embarrassed, hopefully enrolled her in How Not to Be a Total Jerk to Potential Customers 101. So ridiculous.

That’s all for now... happy Thanksgiving week to you all!

*Stay tuned for a post in the near future about how I think acupuncture has miraculously made me more emotionally stable!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Houston, we have a winner!

As promised, it is now time for me to publicly announce the results of my recent giveaway!

Thanks to all who entered- there were 56 entries total (including duplicate entries), and my number of followers increased by two whole people! Now if that's not a success, then I don't know what is.

So I tracked everyone's entries on a spreadsheet and used the Random Number Generator this morning to identify the winner. I didn't bother taking a picture of the results, so you are just going to have to trust that I'm telling the truth... which actually might be sort of hard for you to do when I tell you that the first number it generated was #1, which belonged to the one and only Allison from the blogivers!

No, I'm not making this up. But because I make her mix cd's on a regular basis AND because I don't want to be accused of nepotism, I generated another number to identify the actual winner. Don't feel too sorry for Allison, however, because I will likely still give her a prize out of pity.

Anyway, without further delay, please put your hands together and give a big round of applause to my first ever giveaway winner:

Chrissy from The Year of the Nest!!

Congrats, Chrissy! Your prize was dropped off at the post office today and being that you live just across town, it should be arriving at your door step pre-Thanksgiving. Consider it an early birthday present for Owen, perhaps? :)

And because I don't want to deny the losers rest of you of my awesome taste in Christmas music, I have included the playlist for you below so that you can go check these jams out for yourself. Enjoy!

1. O Holy Night* - Shane Barnard & Shane Everett
2. Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) - Amy Grant
3. Baby, It's Cold Outside - Lady Antebellum
4. The First Noel - David Archuleta
5. All I Want for Christmas is You - Mariah Carey
6. Born to Die - Shane Barnard & Shane Everett
7. Joy to the World - Casting Crowns
8. The Night Before Christmas - Brandon Heath
9. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays - N'Sync
10. Family Tree - Dave Barnes
11. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Rascal Flatts
12. Do You Hear What I Hear? - Third Day
13. The Christmas Song - Dave Barnes
14. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - MercyMe
15. O Holy Night* - Mark Harris

*I included "O Holy Night" on there twice because Chrissy listed it as her favorite Christmas song!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A giveaway motivated almost entirely by guilt

Yes, that's right, friends! It is time for the first ever Meet the Joiners Giveaway! This may not happen again ever for a very long time, so I assure you that you will want to take advantage while you have the opportunity.

Why am I doing this giveaway, you ask? Well the answer is simple. Long, long ago, before my every waking thought was devoted to procreating, I blogged on a semi-regular basis. In fact, I usually blogged multiple times per week.

Now I'm not crazy enough to think that you all actually depended on me for entertainment or anything, but all I know is that those of you who are still reading have been loyal enough to stick with this crazy blog through all its ups and (for the last 2 years) downs. And for that, I am grateful.

And so, I have decided to thank you by GIVING AWAY a Christmas mix CD, made by yours truly. And in fact, if I'm feeling extra generous, I may even throw in a bonus mix CD that is not holiday-themed. I know, pretty ambitious of me, right?

Here's how you can enter, and unlike all of the other bossy-pants blogs, I don't care if you leave all of this information in one comment rather than multiple comments:

1. FIRST ENTRY: Leave a comment telling me your favorite Christmas song. Don't get picky about the version, because there's a good chance I will ignore you and pick the artist of my choosing if I decide to put it on your CD.

2. SECOND ENTRY: Become a follower of Meet the Joiners (or let me know that you're already a follower).

3. THIRD ENTRY: Mention this giveaway and include a link to it on your blog.

4. **FOR 2 BONUS ENTRIES**: In the above-mentioned blog post, include a link to Living Stones Church (and mention how hot my husband, Brian, the Associate Pastor, is).

So there you have it! Entries will be accepted up until 11:59 pm (CST) on Saturday, November 19th, and the winner will be announced on Sunday, November 20th.

PS- Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you and let you know that you're the winner if your blog isn't set up for e-mail responses!

Monday, November 14, 2011

If I were a Christmas stocking...

... these are things I would want to be stuffed with:

1. Any of these from Philosophy - Holiday Bath & Body


2. Or any of these from OPI - The Muppets Collection
"Gettin' Miss Piggy with it!"



"Fresh Frog of Bel Air"


"Warm and Fozzie"

3. Not surprisingly, a pair of Hanky Pankies- I realize I reference these far too often, but when you find underwear that changes your life, you just can't keep from talking about it!

And PS- how cute is this?



And because I'm nothing if not practical...

4. A tube (or 10) of Vanilla Mint Chapstick (because I'm not really sophisticated enough to wear actual lipstick)


5. And while I'm at it, maybe a tube (or 10) of Burt's Bees - I use the Vanilla Mint Chapstick during the day but Burt's Bees before bed... it's normal to have different chapsticks for day and night, right?
(although Santa brought me 5 of these last year that I have yet to finish using...)

5. Several packs of Orbit Wintermint gum ... it may have "winter" in the name, but that doesn't stop me from chewing multiple packs a week on a year-round basis.
6. And last, but not least, one of these:

Oh, except our own this time instead of just someone else's. Although if that's not possible, I suppose Davis will do.

And I'll leave it at that for now... part 2 may be published at a later date. But before I go, I thought you all might be amused to find out that I legitimately called my mom Santa the other day to ask her if she could include the following in my stocking this year:


Don't judge me... the 100+ yard tubes are hard to find!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Home again

A big thank you to my wonderful twin sis for blog-sitting for me while I was gone, although let's be honest- I only post once or twice a week nowadays, so I wouldn't call it the world's most challenging task. Regardless, she did a great job and as always, I am appreciative of her!

Now, allow me to update you on the life and times of Amanda Joiner:

Santa Fe:
Yes, the rumors are true. My mom whisked me (and only me!) away for a weekend in Santa Fe. Her purpose here was twofold: 1. She feels sorry for me, and 2. She loves Santa Fe and is always looking for an excuse to go. I just so happen to feel sorry for myself AND love Santa Fe as well, so I'd say it worked out well for both of us.

It was definitely chilly there, as evidenced by the following video:


Yes, that's right. It snowed, and although you can't really tell from the video, the wind was blowing rather violently. As a result, the power was out in our hotel (oh, and the entire city) for about 3 hours. Our hotel very thoughtfully brought us our own flashlight, which my mom promptly used to light up the bathroom in order for her to take a shower. Approximately 5 minutes after she finished her dimly lit shower, the power came back on. Go figure!

Other than that, we did our fair share of walking, shopping, and eating. I always eat big breakfasts when I'm on vacation with my mom, so you can imagine how quickly I spiraled into a depression the morning after I got home upon realizing that all that was awaiting me was a bowl of Total. And then again at dinner when no one brought an order of chips and guacamole to my table. Such is life post-vacation, I suppose.

It is also worth mentioning that we slept A LOT. As in, 19 hours in 2 nights, one of which was the night that Daylight Savings went into effect. And thus, I have discovered one of the (very few, in my opinion) benefits of not having children yet!

Anyway, I was very grateful for the escape from reality and am hopeful that my reproductive system felt the same way. Some people go on vacation to "recharge their batteries." Me? I go on vacation to recharge my ovaries. Which leads me to my next topic...

Fertility:
In addition to take a break from life in general, I also coincidentally got to take a week-long vacation from my herbs. I was ready for a refill last week, but there was some extra ingredient that my acupuncturist wanted to include that hadn't come in yet. I have no idea what it was, but I am sort of in the "don't ask, don't tell" mindset as far as the herbs go, so I am ok with that.

Apparently the magic formula was complete today, however, because she gave me my next "prescription," which I'll start taking tomorrow. I have also started taking a daily capsule of royal jelly, which, in case you're too lazy to click on the link, is basically what the queen bees (as in bumble bees) eat. It is supposed to help boost your fertility (among other things), but so far it just seems to make me sweat a lot. So that's special.

So if you're keeping track, that now means I am taking 14 pills/supplements per day. Future baby Joiner, you owe me. Big time.

Oh, and I also thought you all might appreciate that I was very publicly reading a book on my flight to New Mexico called Empty Womb, Aching Heart (thanks, Jill B!). I couldn't decide if I should be more embarrassed about that, or the fact that the playlist I was listening to on my iPod while reading the book was entitled "Erika's Infertility Jams" (which I made for my pal, Erika (obviously), a while back). Then again, some might argue that my other musical selection - NKOTBSB - was equally embarrassing. Fortunately, (a) I will probably never see the woman that sat next to me ever again, and (b) I don't get embarrassed easily, as evidenced by the things I admit to on this blog.

So there you have it. I wish I had more to say being that I haven't actually blogged in almost 2 weeks, but other than the fact that I purchased the new Christmas Cookies Bluebell ice cream at the store today, I really don't have anything exciting to report. Until next time!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Guest post!

Greetings, friends! Amanda and my mom are kickin' it in Santa Fe, New Mexico today while I am at home in Austin recovering from a cold and cursing the inventor of Daylight Savings (Dear Davis, please get back on schedule A.S.A.P.), so I am guest posting for Amanda today! Pretty sure I am getting the short end of the stick here, but that's ok - if anyone deserves a break from reality these days, it's my sis.


(For the 1 or 2 of you that don't know me, my name's Allison, and I am Amanda's identical twin sister. Instead of providing you with a picture of myself, I will just direct you to the pictures in Amanda's blog header... see the female in those pictures? I look pretty much just like her. So there you go.)


When Amanda and I were growing up, we were fortunate enough to have parents who regularly took us on vacation to cool places. Granted, we may not have always appreciated the coolness of those destinations at the time, but now we can look back on those trips with fond memories, and that's what matters, right? Today I am going to share with you a few of my favorite memories shared with Amanda on some of those trips.


1. Disney Land - 1988. My parents decided to take to us to Disney Land when we were 5 because they assumed we would be old enough to remember the vacation... they were wrong. Well, not entirely wrong - the only part we remembered from the entire trip was sitting outside at a restaurant where the sun was in everyone's eyes, and in an effort to block some of the sun, a woman put her napkin on her head and kept it there while she ate her lunch. To a couple of 5 year olds, it was obviously one of the funniest things ever. (Sorry, don't have any pictures to share with you for this one... for some reason I didn't own a camera at the time.)


2. Backpacking in New Mexico - 1997. Knowing myself as well as I do now, I have no idea why I ever agreed to go on a backpacking trip. I enjoy hiking and being outdoors, but more than that, I enjoy sleeping in a bed and eating real food. Nevertheless, when we were 14, my sister and I found ourselves backpacking through the woods with our dad and a random older couple (not random to my dad, but random to us). Neither of us really enjoyed ourselves, but I'll go ahead and say Amanda had less fun than I did (and I won't talk about how she cried because she was so miserable at one point). Really the only pleasant memory I have of the trip (aside from when it was over) was when we were killing time while hiking by changing the words to "Barely Breathing" by Duncan Sheik to make them about eating burritos from Taco Bell. Seemed funny at the time...


We're smiling here because the trip hadn't started yet and the packs weren't on our backs.

3. Quito, Ecuador - 1998. We went there for my mom's hairdresser's daughter's wedding (did you follow that?), and we stayed at a few different places while we were there. And because we were mature and not at all resistant to a new culture, we determined that every single place we stayed had some kind of cooties. Obviously we were scared of catching the cooties, so we refused to sleep in a bed alone. Yes, we opted to share a twin size bed everywhere we went because we were worried about... well, I don't even know precisely what we were worried about, but obviously sleeping uncomfortably in one small bed was going to prevent anything from happening.


"Uh, this bed totally sucks."


4. Maui, Hawaii - 1999. This trip was fun because, well, we were in Hawaii. But one of my favorite parts was when we went parasailing. Instead of admiring the scenery, we spent most of our time up in the air singing Britney Spears songs and doing other immature things which I will not reveal on this blog. I just appreciate then when I am sharing a cool moment like that with my sister, I can count on her to ruin the moment with me by making inappropriate comments.


"OOPS I did it again!"

5. Santa Fe, New Mexico - 2006. We have been to Santa Fe countless times, starting with our first visit when we were 7 weeks old, but the trip in 2006 was especially memorable because we were there for my wedding. Some of my favorite moments were those shared with my original other half... like when I forced her to help me apply my bronzing lotion and left her with orange hands, or when she tried to assure me that "it wasn't too late to call off the wedding" (she was joking... I think), or when my hair stylist canceled on me just 2 days before the wedding and I freaked the freak out and she had to do damage control, or when the photographer was taking too long getting pictures of Wade and me after the ceremony and Amanda was giving me death threats for making her so late to the reception, or when she started sobbing uncontrollably when it was time for us to leave the reception (which in turn made me cry... all the way to our hotel an hour away).


"This reception is fun! Because we haven't been separated yet and we aren't sobbing uncontrollably!"

Now that we are all grown up, we have already taken a few vacations together with our husbands, but I know there will be many more to come. Here's to all the memories that they will bring!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Consider this post to be today's "treat"

I’d like to start by making a correction to my last post: I am now taking THIRTEEN pills/supplements every day. I forgot to include my thyroid medicine when I originally counted. I take 7 of the 13 pills (along with the 4 ounce shot of green goo) all before 6:30 am, and if you didn’t think that was punishment enough for my body, then you should know that Total (my newly mandated breakfast) tastes like cardboard.

As you can imagine, my mornings just got much less enjoyable. Which is why I couldn't help but laugh when, immediately after braving my bowl of Total and finishing my round of pill-popping the other morning, I opened up my e-mail and found one of those daily coupons offering me discounted admission to a "Mom Expo" in town. Oh, and we got the latest issue of Pottery Barn Kids in the mail that same day, which we definitely did not sign up to receive. Conspiracy? I think so.

And now onto relevant news: Halloween!

Sadly, I will not be dressing up this year because (a) being an adult is lame, and (b) I interview people for a living, so even if my company did allow costumes, I'm not sure walking into the interview room dressed as a cow or chocolate chip cookie would really get the message across that we are a professional company and should be taken seriously. Although if any candidates were to stumble upon my blog (which I'm sure they have done before), then any hopes of being taken seriously would already be gone, but that's beside the point.

I did, however, get to (sort of) dress up yesterday. In case I haven't mentioned it, my new Junior League placement (the one that I was assigned to after I failed my TB test and was banned from volunteering in medical facilities) is the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Sugar Land. It really worked out perfectly because it is much closer to my house, AND there are dinosaurs there, which, as you can imagine, is a big hit with our own Baby Dinosaur (PS- please don't tell him the ones I volunteer with are dead).

Anyway, the museum's Halloween "Spooktacular" was yesterday and I volunteered to help with the kids' activities. We were supposed to wear scary/creepy costumes, but I don't have anything scary on hand (I suppose I could have dressed up as an angry woman dealing with infertility... that's fairly terrifying:), so I went with a classic:


Get it? DQ + the tiara? Yep, that's right, I dressed up as Dairy Queen. And in case you are counting, yes, I do own 2 Dairy Queen t-shirts. I'm guessing you're not surprised.

I happened to have this gem of a costume on hand because back in college, Brian and I went to my sorority's Halloween date party ("Owloween"- hootie hoo!) dressed as Dairy Queen and Burger King. Here's proof:


(This is also proof that Brian once weighed about 10 pounds less than he does now and I weighed about 10 pounds more. Oh, and for the record, we swapped crowns on purpose for this pic.)

Anyway, when I first arrived at the museum and asked where I could be of help, the director asked me how I am with cockroaches. Um. Is this a joke? Did she read this post or maybe this one and decide to play a trick on me? Unfortunately, she was not kidding. Fortunately, I had the option of saying no, and although I hate to be that annoying girl who is too much of a pansy to touch bugs, I had to decline her offer to be the one in charge of cockroach racing. Yep, for real:


Instead, I got to spend the next 3 hours in the room where kids stuck their hands in boxes to try to guess what (fake) organs they were. We had a liver (wet sponge), eye balls (some type of jelly water balls), intestines (water balloons), brain (no clue), and a heart that actually pumped (which meant I spent 3 hours manually pumping a fake heart). It was actually pretty entertaining, and fun to see all of the kids in their costumes.

For the record, it was not as fun as seeing this kid in his costume:

Link
I know, I know- don't you want to eat him for dinner?

So that about wraps up my Halloween excitement. I did make chocolate chip pumpkin muffins (easiest recipe ever) for my office's annual Halloween potluck breakfast, so that's also worth mentioning. And I also want you to see some of my favorite Halloween decorations from our house before I go, since they will be getting the boot from our house shortly. Enjoy!

Fact: Chi Omegas love Halloween.
Also a fact: I love candy corn (thanks, sis!). And fall-smelling candles.

Some pumpkies in our dining room

Happy Halloween!
(PS- I spy two cute puppies in this one.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I am from Austin, after all

This week was annoying. I was in a slump and couldn't seem to climb my way out of it until yesterday. Thankfully, I did not blog during that time so you didn't have to experience my misery with me. However, that does not mean this post will be devoid of mopey thoughts from your favorite sub-fertile blogger, so don't breathe that sigh of relief just yet.

In examining my charts on fertilityfriend.com recently, I realized that I have only ovulated twice (possibly three times, but I'm pretty sure only two) this year. TWO TIMES IN TEN MONTHS. Do you know how aggravating that is for someone that is trying to get pregnant?

The good news is that one of those two times, we actually ended up with a fertilized egg! The bad news is that it ended up being a chemical pregnancy, so I'm not really sure we can count that one as a victory. But still, so far we have a 50% success rate for fertilization in 2011, which is pretty impressive.

I think my body's absurd infrequency of ovulation really is my biggest source of frustration... while it would be discouraging to have repeated failed cycles every month, it would be nice to (a) have an opportunity to conceive more than twice a year, and (b) know that, even when one cycle didn't work out, I wouldn't have to wait 50+ days for the next one to begin.

I expressed my frustrations to my acupuncturist at my first appointment this week. And by "expressed my frustrations," I mean that I basically dumped on her for the first 15 minutes of my session. Fortunately, I was in a much better place when I went back for my second appointment yesterday.

She had apparently sensed my desperation and had a plan of attack ready for me when I showed up for round 2. Not only did she put together my own specially-blended bottle of herbs for me to start taking, but she also had some more nutritional guidelines for me. She gave me a list of what's included in the herbs (and no, Erika, it's not weed), but because I've never heard of of any of the items on that list (ligusticum root?), I am going to assume you haven't either and will refrain from sharing it with you.

You will, however, have to hear about my new nutritional suggestions:

1. Raisin Bran is getting the boot. Remember back when I made a resolution to find a new breakfast cereal? Well that didn't so much happen. I did briefly substitute Multi-grain Cheerio's, but after a month or so, Raisin Bran was back on the shelf. What can I say? Old habits die hard.

But apparently I'm going to have to power through it because I have now been instructed to eat Total. Just plain and simple Total... no raisins (in fact, she said to avoid dried fruits), no happy sunshine man on the box- nothing. In fact, on the instructions she gave me, she wrote, "cut out breakfast cereal - eat protein instead," but I think she opted for a less harmful cereal option instead in order to avoid me going into a sudden state of shock.

2. Avoid milk and yogurt. Avoid bread at night. This won't be too hard because the only time I ever have milk is with my cereal. And the only time I have yogurt is... never. So I just have to make sure to avoid bread at night, which I think I can handle. Good think she didn't mention anything about tortilla chips! :)

3. Eat lean, organic, hormone-free meat. I told her that my biggest battle with changing my food habits (other than my gag reflex) will be my frugality, and this is especially true for this guideline. Meat is expensive as it is, and even more so if you get the "fancy" kind. Yep, that's right, I just used the term "fancy" to refer to "healthy" food.

My biggest concern was about my turkey sandwiches, because I didn't want to have to give an arm and a leg for deli meat. However, according to Brian (google), it is actually illegal to treat poultry with growth hormones in the USofA (and has been since the 1950s), so apparently the Boar's Head turkey I have been eating is already hormone-free. Hooray!

So we'll see how this goes. She assured me that my herbs will help me to feel better and should help to speed up the whole process of getting my system in working order, so even though I am resistant to taking NINE pills a day (in addition to my prenatal vitamin, calcium, and fish oil supplement... so make that 12 pills a day... plus 4 ounces of green goo), I'm going to give it a shot.

Oh, and to answer the question on everyone's minds, no, I am not turning into a hippie. Although for the record, if that will help us get pregnant, then pardon me while I go hug some trees.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My hope is in You

Continuing with the (unintentional) Christian music theme this week, I want you to go watch/listen to this music video. The song is called "My Hope is in You," and it's by Aaron Shust. Don't worry, it is nothing like the "Good Morning" song in case you were not a fan. (Also, my friend, Alexis, found this magical zumba video featuring that very song, so you definitely need to check it out as well.)

Ok back to the Aaron Shust song/video. In case you were too lazy to click on the link and watch it yourself, (spoiler alert) the music video is about an older couple whose daughter was apparently in some kind of accident. In between the artsy (and irrelevant) scenes of Aaron Shust's piano solos, the video follows along as they rush to the hospital, pray in a chapel, and sit in the waiting room waiting for news on their daughter's condition.

Admittedly, I got sucked into the story line very quickly, much in the same way that I do with Sarah McLachlan's SPCA commercials. But I thought SURELY the girl wasn't going to die (just like I think SURELY that one-eyed puppy was adopted by some loving family). No way would someone make a music video that depressing, and besides, the couple was so faithful and full of hope, so OBVIOUSLY they would be rewarded by finding out that she was OK.

And then the doctor came in to the waiting room. And he did not have a happy look on his face. I started to panic. He shook his head to confirm that the girl did not, in fact, make it, and just as the mom collapsed in tears, my heart sank just as if I was a close, personal friend of this fictional family.

The video went on to show the couple at the cemetery after burying their daughter, and I just shook my head in disbelief that the director of the music video would allow that girl to die! After that sweet old couple had PRAYED for her and waited patiently for God to save her! THE NERVE!!!

It was not until the video was finished and the words of the song were playing over again in my head that I suddenly figured out why it made sense for them to end the story that way. Because just like the story in the video didn't end up how I wanted or expected it to, real life doesn't always end up how we want or expect it to. And yet still, we are called to hope in the Lord.

My hope is in You, Lord
All the day long
I won't be shaken by drought or storm
A peace that passes understanding is my song
And I sing
My hope is in You, Lord

Just like God didn't "reward" the couple for their faithfulness by saving their daughter, God doesn't always "reward" us for our faithfulness by doing whatever we want or ask. Case in point: 25 months and countless prayers later, we are still not pregnant.

Ultimately, God is not always going to do what we think He should, or when we think He should, because He knows better. He is always going to do what is best for us whether we understand it (or agree with it) or not.

And so the challenge is for us to place our hope in Him anyway. And just as the couple in the music video did not lose hope when their prayer wasn't answered in they way they expected, we, too, should continue placing our hope in the Lord when our prayers aren't answered the way we expect them to be.

I realize this is a pretty elementary truth, but it has been on my mind and on my heart lately, and the music video obviously hit it home for me, so I felt compelled to share. For Brian and me, no matter how many failed cycles or unsuccessful fertility treatments we endure, we continue to hope in the Lord, and we will not allow our ability (or inability, as the case may be) to have children to define our hope, our joy, our identity, our worth, or our God. For you, whatever drought or storm you might be experiencing right now, I pray that you, too, will not give up putting your hope in the One who is able to do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1